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lehrer of pbs. >> we still have trillion dollar deficits. the cbo says we'll have a trillion dollar deficit each of the next four years. >> reporter: these two men, they are virtually strangers to each other personally. they've only met in person three times before tonight. most recently, in passing, on a debate stage in new hampshire way back in 2008, when republicans followed democrats in debate three days before the primaries. and there was this brief encounter on the campaign trail in 2007. >> good luck to you today. >> reporter: and while they have both reached the pinnacle of party politics, they are so different. their talents and their paths to power and their debate styles. so much at stake on that stage tonight. this showdown comes at what might be the critical moment in this campaign. a hinge of political history. polls show the race tightening, just 34 days left in this campaign. and you can already sense in the crowds the special energy of the home stretch. but tonight, surprisingly, and in contrast to the daily scrap on the trail, no zingers, no roundhouse punches. har
moments we'll remember tomorrow. >> the moderator tonight, jim lehrer from pbs. he's moderated 12 debates, more than anybody else. here he is right now. >> good evening, from the magnus arena at the university of denver in denver, colorado. i'm jim lehrer of the pbs news hour and i welcome you to the first of the 2012 presidential debates, between president barack obama, the democratic nominee, and former massachusetts governor mitt romney, the republican nominee. this debate, and the next three, two presidential, one vice presidential, are sponsored by the commission on presidential debates. tonight's 90 minutes will be about domestic issues. and will follow a format designed by the commission. there will be six roughly 15-minute segments, with two-minute answers for the first question, then open discussion for the remainder of each segment. thousands of people offered suggestions on questions, via the internet and other means, but i made the final selections and, for the record, they were not submitted for approval to the commission or the candidates. the segments, as i announced, in ad
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